Thursday, 7 February 2019

Taliban official says Half of US troops will leave Afghanistan by May 1

A Taliban official said on Wednesday the United States had promised to withdraw half of its troops from Afghanistan by the end of April, but the US military said no timeframe had been set.

Taliban official says  Half of US troops will leave Afghanistan by May 1

 Abdul Salam Hanafi, speaking on the sidelines of a meeting in Moscow between the Taliban and other prominent Afghan figures, said American officials pledged the pullout will begin this month. 

 "The Americans told us that from the beginning of February to the end of April half of the troops from Afghanistan will be withdrawn," Hanafi told reporters. 

 But Pentagon spokesman Army Colonel Rob Manning said the US military had received no orders to begin withdrawing. 

 "Peace talks with the Taliban continue, but [the Defense Department] has not received a directive to change the force structure in Afghanistan," said Manning.

 Mean while A US military spokeswoman in Kabul had denied an immediate troop withdrawal.

 "If all parties do what is necessary to prevent Afghanistan from being used as a platform for terrorism, as conditions allow we are willing to look at changes in force presence," she stated.

 Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, head of the Taliban delegation in Moscow, also contradicted Hanafi's earlier comments on an American withdrawal saying no date had yet been fixed.

 Hanafi said Washington and the Taliban agreed that all foreign troops would eventually leave and Afghanistan would never be used as a base for attacks on the US.

 He added the US and the Taliban will each create a technical committee that "will work on a timetable for the withdrawal of remaining troops".

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